Published on 1 June 2016

People who have had weight loss surgery in order to make their stomach smaller find it easier to move around and increase their levels of physical activity, according to a new study.

Researchers at University of Leicester found that in the first year following the surgery people were able to walk further and be more physically active.

The report, recently published in the Obesity Reviews journal, added that although patients were found to have an increased step count and walked further, the intensity of the activity was lower in the early stages after surgery.

People with type 2 diabetes could be more active following weight loss surgery

Weight loss, or bariatric, surgery is used to help people who are overweight and at risk of additional health problems, to lose weight, when other treatments, such as lifestyle changes, have not worked.

Adults with type 2 diabetes may be considered for an assessment for weight loss surgery if they have a body mass index (BMI) level of 30 or more. 

Weight loss surgery has proven to be effective in significantly and quickly reducing excess body fat. 

Researchers, funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), looked at the impact the surgery had on physical activity and physical function both before and after surgery by examining 50 previously published studies.

The research was carried out by the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity BRU.

Professor Melanie Davies CBE, who is the Director of the research centre as well as a Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester, said: “We found evidence demonstrating that objective and self-reported physical activity improved by 12 months after bariatric surgery.

“A decrease in objectively measured moderate to vigorous activity and an increase in step count at three to six months indicated a shift towards a greater amount of lower intensity physical activity within the first six months after surgery. Walking, musculoskeletal and self-reported physical function all improved by 12 months.”

Fellow researcher Dr Louisa Herring added that larger follow-up trials would be needed to further understand the effects of physical activity on post-surgical outcomes.

Dr Herring said: “Although physical activity performed after bariatric surgery was associated with better weight loss outcomes, there is limited information on patients’ physical activity behaviour in this context.

“No relationship was identified between changes in weight and walking performance post-surgery. More studies assessing physical activity, physical function and weight loss would help understand the role of physical activity in optimising post-operative weight and functional outcomes.”

Find out more about weight loss surgery and calculate your body mass index on the NHS website
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